Nissan Motor Co. plans to expand its portfolio of electric vehicles in the key U.S. market ,in line with demand for battery-powered versions of its mainstay cars and sport-utility vehicles, the firm’s chief operating officer has said.
“What’s very important is to do electrification on sedans and SUVs,” Ashwani Gupta said in an interview. “Our focus is on our core products.”
The automaker, which was an early entrant into the EV market with the Leaf a decade ago, is working on next-generation SUVs with electrified powertrain options.
Even so, Nissan isn’t rushing to join a stampede — by rivals ranging from General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. to Tesla Inc. and Rivian Automotive Inc. — into battery-powered trucks, the executive said.
Buyers of full-sized pickups such as Nissan’s Titan model aren’t clamoring for electrified trucks. Instead, they want features such as towing power that an electric truck may not be able to provide with current battery technology, according to the COO.
“When I talk to customers from Texas who are driving my Titan, their answer is no” to electric pickups, Gupta said. “When they will start asking for it? That’s the million-dollar question.”
Nissan announced earlier this year that it plans to electrify all-new models it releases in major markets, including the U.S., by the early 2030s.
Nissan is hoping to turn around its much-shrunken U.S. business with a slew of new models to update its aging lineup. It needs those after posting an eighth straight quarterly sales decline in the last three months of 2020, when U.S. sales dropped 19%. Pandemic-depressed demand dragged down deliveries 33% to 899,217 vehicles for the year — the lowest since amid a recession in 2009.
A recovery hinges on demand for four marquee vehicles that Gupta expects will make up 75% of U.S. sales: the best-selling and remodeled Rogue crossover SUV, new Ariya EV and refreshed versions of its Frontier mid-size pickup and Pathfinder SUV. The Rogue alone accounted for about 25% of Nissan’s U.S. sales last quarter, but now accounts for one-third of volume, Gupta said.
Nissan eked out a slim operating profit of ¥27.1 billion for the three months through December, aided by a recovery in the North American market — which was profitable due to improving quality of sales in the region, Gupta said.
“We’re on the right track,” the COO stressed. “If we keep fixed cost optimized and focus on quality of sales — driven by value-pricing, higher credit score, higher customer profile — we’ll drive profitable growth.”
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